Monday, April 21, 2008

The Dangers of Energy Drinks

Even though I'm a recovering caffeine addict (consuming more than 20 cups per day and loving every drop!), I've never understood the appeal of energy drinks. The only thing I gained from caffeine was the jitters. I drank coffee from the moment I woke up until right before bed, and it never increased my energy, nor did it ever help keep me awake. It was just a nasty habit that went hand in hand with my excessive smoking, so I gave up both over 20 years ago, and I've never looked back.

I quit caffeine before the advent of energy drinks, so I haven't had the opportunity to try one, but the thought of drinking a can full of excessive amounts of caffeine and sugar is as appealing as injecting both those ingredients directly into my veins. It's apparently the rage of the under-30 crowd, but I've seen older colleagues in the entertainment industry chug one Red Bull after another (for an extra added jolt) as if it was a cold, refreshing glass of water.

Though there have been varying scientific opinions as to the benefits, or lack thereof, of caffeine, these new-ish energy drinks have doctors concerned. Red Bull (started in Austria back in the late 1980s) and Monster are probably the 2 most notable of all the energy drinks, but 500 new energy drinks were introduced into the market in 2006, and there's even a blogger who rates them. The problem is, not only do many of these drinks contain a higher content of caffeine than a plain old cup 'o java, they often include other stimulants and ingredients like taurine and l-carnitine, guarana, ginseng, plus B vitamins. Megadoses of B vitamins can cause heart palpitations, and some people have even had seizures after drinking an energy drink called Spike Shooter. Mixing energy drinks with alcohol, as many youngsters do, can even cause cardiovascular or cardiopulmonary failure. A Brazilian study of college students concluded that those who drank alcohol with Red Bull were less cognizant of how drunk they were than those who didn't, which could lead to accidents and potential alcohol poisoning.

But it's a multi-billion dollar-per-year industry, capitalizing on the youth culture's ever-expanding, never-ending search for a legal high and our modern day, quick-fix tendencies, so it won't be dropped from our grocery store shelves any time soon.


Get a good night's sleep

Exercise regularly

Eat healthfully
Eat energy boosting foods
and toss that can away. In the recycling bin, of course!

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